Richard Adams



Richard Adams, left, and his partner, Anthony Sullivan | 1984 | Los Angeles Times | 14312

Gay Activist is sad to learn of the death of Richard Adams, gay marriage activist and pioneer, age 65. The LA Times reminds us of his huge contribution to gay rights.

“Thirty-seven years ago, Richard Adams made history when he and his partner of four years, Anthony Sullivan, became one of the first gay couples in the country to be granted a marriage license. It happened in Boulder, Colo., where a liberal county clerk issued licenses to six same-sex couples in the spring of 1975.

Adams had hoped to use his marriage to secure permanent residency in the United States for Sullivan, an Australian who had been in the country on a limited visa and was facing deportation.

But Colorado’s attorney general declared the Boulder marriages invalid. Several months later, Adams and Sullivan received a letter from the Immigration and Naturalization Service that denied Sullivan’s petition for resident status in terms that left no doubt about the reason:

“You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots,” the notification read.”

Born in Manila on March 9, 1947, Adams immigrated to the U.S. aged 12. He studied liberal arts at the University of Minnesota and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1968. By 1971 he was working in Los Angeles, where he met Sullivan and fell in love.

But the US initially refused to let Sullivan stay and did not recognise the relationship, so in 1985, they flew to Britain and drifted through Europe for the next year.

“The pair ended their self-imposed exile after a year and came home. They lived quietly in Los Angeles to avoid drawing the attention of immigration officials, but in recent years began to appear at rallies supporting same-sex marriage.

They were encouraged by new guidelines issued by the Obama administration this fall instructing immigration officials to stop deporting foreigners in long-standing same-sex relationships with U.S. citizens.

Although the policy change came more than three decades after Adams and Sullivan raised the issue, it gave Adams “a sense of vindication.”

The day before he died, Sullivan (said) that the most important victory was that they were able to remain a couple.

“Richard looked at me,” Sullivan (said), “and said, ‘Yeah, you’re right. We’ve won.'””

Gay Activist sends condolences to Anthony, family, colleagues and friends.



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